Styles of Hotpot
There are mainly two styles of Sichuan Hotpot: a "regular" hotpot and a "theme" hotpot.
Regular: With the "regular" hot pots, you get the basic hot pot soup - either spicy, non-spicy, or a half and half pot. By 'half spicy' is meant a pot divided in two, with a spicy half and a non-spicy half (yin-yang) which is ideal if two or more people are to share the pot.
Theme: With the "theme" hotpots, you get one kind of food in the pot such as frog hotpot, duck hot pot, mushroom hotpot, fish head hot pot, rabbit hot pot, eel hotpot, and so much more.
After deciding on the type of pot you want, you then order all types of foods to cook in the hotpot. You can order vegetables and meats such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, duck, eel, rabbit, frog, fish, mushrooms, winter melon, lettuce, lotus root, tofu, rice noodles, and so much more. If you are adventurous enough, you can basically cook anything with hot pot, e.g., pig's brain and duck's kidney. With the "theme" hotpots, you must go to specialty hotpot restaurants that serve that theme. With the "theme" hotpots, you must go to specialty hotpot restaurants that serve that theme.
How to Eat It
People gather around a small pot boiled with charcoal, electric or gas filled with flavorful and nutritious soup base. Thin sliced raw variety meat, fish, various bean curd products and all kinds of vegetables are boiled in the soup base. You then dip them in a little bowl of special sauce. Be careful since the spicy soup base is burning hot.
About the Sauce
Sichuan hotpot involves a sesame paste 'dip' made from ground sesame seeds (paste) and sesame oil. Other dip types are sometimes available. The sesame dip is often topped with coriander. Other condiments are also usually available, including garlic, spring onion and chilli oil, to add either to the soup or dip.